FOREIGN MINISTERS CLASH OVER FIJI’S DEMOCRATIC PLIGHT

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Kubuabola says comments by Australia's Rudd prejudiced

By Tevita Vuibau SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, May 8, 2011) - Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has slammed claims by his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd with regards to Fiji’s return to parliamentary democracy as prejudiced.

Rudd had said in a statement to the press at the Commonwealth Ministerial group Meetings in London last month, that Fiji’s plans to return to parliamentary democracy had shown "no measurable change whatsoever".

Kubuabola said there was little hope for cooperation between Fiji and Australia while the former Australian Prime Minister is in office.

"Mr. Rudd has once again demonstrated his Government’s intent to undermine the Fiji reform agenda," said Ratu Inoke.

"Fiji can only conclude, that given his clear prejudice against Fiji’s declared Road map, that there is little hope for real re-engagement between the Governments of Australia and Fiji while Mr. Rudd remains in office."

Ratu Inoke also said that many countries had sent heads of Government, ministers and high-level envoys to Fiji to learn about Fiji’s Strategic Framework for Change, and the majority of them had left Fiji with statements of support and encouragement for Fiji’s Roadmap.

Ratu Inoke noted that while the Commonwealth Secretariat had made positive remarks about the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s recent meeting, there was no mention that was held in Fiji, was chaired by Fiji’s Prime Minister and the meeting gave its endorsement to Fiji’s Roadmap for constitutional reform and General Elections in 2014.

"It is clear where this CMAG bias is originating from."

"Fiji has no quarrel with the Australian people, we have stood together through times of war and peace, we have played together on the sports fields, and for generations our economy has been closely linked with Australia’s.

"We welcome hundreds of thousands of Australians to Fiji every year, and they will always be made to feel that Fiji is their home away from home," he added.

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